Book: “The Queen Will Betray You” by Sarah Henning
Publishing Info: Tor Teen, July 2021
Where Did I Get this Book: NetGalley!
Book Description: To stay together forever, Princess Amarande and her stableboy love, Luca, must part: Amarande to reclaim her kingdom from usurpers, and Luca to raise a rebellion and find his destiny. Arrayed against them are all the players in the game of thrones for control over the continent of The Sand and Sky. Facing unspeakable betrayals, enemies hidden in the shadows, and insurmountable odds, their only hope is the power of true love…
Previously Reviewed: “The Princess Will Save You”
Review: I read the first book in this duology last summer purely because it was hyped as being a gender-swapped retelling of “The Princess Bride.” While that premise may technically have applied, I found it to be more distracting than helpful in my read of the story. Too often, I found myself trying to match up characters from the book to characters from the original or to line up plot points in a similar way, rarely to much success. But the story was charming enough, and I enjoyed the straight forward romance at its heart. I was excited to check out this second entry in the story, however, as I’ve been hopeful that now that the author has moved past the original “Princess Bride” retelling, the story might come more fully into its own.
Each with a powerful destiny before them, Amarande and Luca must part after spending so long trying desperately to be reunited. But the kingdoms are restless and political power plays for them to separate to reclaim their birth rights. Unaware of what awaits them, they must untangle the various different factions, each with their own long-game and plans for Amarande and Luca. With so many unknowns, all they truly know anymore is their deep love for one another and their will to be together again.
As I said, I was excited to see where this book went after it firmly left behind its “retelling” status in the first book. Luca’s storyline, for example, now doesn’t remotely resemble any portion of Buttercup’s arc in the original story. With a kingdom and history of his own, I was particularly interested in where his storyline would go. While he still played a distinctly second fiddle to Amarande, I was overall pleased with what we had from Luca here. It was nice to see him in a more proactive light and freed from being simply “the love interest.” His increased characterization also helped make the love story more compelling, giving us both sides to root for.
However, the love story itself takes a marked step back into the shadows in this book. It was a fairly prevalent part of the first, but here the story veers much more into political machinations. I was a bit disappointed by that, as the love story was probably what I liked most about the first book. And while I expected a portion of the story to focus on Amarande’s and Luca’s individual stories, I also wished their storylines had converged earlier in the story. As it is, we don’t get to see over much interaction between these two characters at all.
The story was also a bit slower than the first. I’m not sure if this was perhaps just the mood I was in while reading or what, but it felt like it was harder to become invested in the plot and towards the middle the story seemed to drag a bit. I still really liked Amarande, though, which helped carry the book when things seemed to slow down. I also liked that we got more world-building and exploration in to the various choices that Amanrade and Luca’s parents made before they were born (some of the bigger reveals in the first book came on this front, so I was glad to see that given attention here).
Overall, it was a perfectly adequate story. I didn’t love the duology as a whole, but I also enjoyed my experience while reading them. I’m not sure the “Princess Bride” comparisons ever helped the story, frankly, and I do think the duology might have been better served with no connection to that beloved work. But if you’re looking for a sweet, fun YA fantasy, this duology delivers. Especially for readers look for a mostly drama-free romance, something that is definitely hard to find!
Rating 7: A solid second entry, though not ground-breaking in any way.
“The Queen Will Betray You” is a newer title, so it isn’t on many Goodreads lists. But it is on Epic High Fantasy/Romance/Mythology in 2021.
Find “The Queen Will Betray You” at your library using WorldCat!